From Doom to Gloom: The story of a video game


NPR's Morning Edition developed a series on the subject of flops, and one of their segments was devoted to the rise and fall of John Romero. You can read more about the phenomenon known as Daikatana in a huge series on Gamespot. Set aside at least an hour if you choose to read it. You can also read the Dallas Observer story that opened the floodgates.

Comments (15)
  1. Brendan says:

    You broke the cardinal rule of game world Raymond… anytime you say the name of John Romero… hehehe or Daikatana… hahaha… you are required to pause for a moment and softly chuckle of laugh.

  2. Mike says:

    That’s a pretty interesting, er, dissertation at GameSpot. I didn’t really intend to read all of it, but ended up doing so, and you’re right it took about an hour.

    What I found most interesting there was the talk about company culture and management styles rather than the (well documented) difficulties in making a game. I don’t see much talk about this sort of thing … maybe I look in the wrong places … but it seems that getting the right culture can be hugely influential on the success or failure of a company. Maybe I should stick some books on the subject to my reading list.

  3. Dan McCarty says:

    Slightly off-topic, but the other day I was thinking how nice it would be if NPR and other radio shows which are already free would distribute their content in .mp3 format instead of making you listen to it by radio or with a streaming broadcast.

    I know there’s software that will take streaming audio and record it to .mp3, but does anyone know why sites like npr.org and marketplace.org don’t just distribute the mp3’s in the first place?

  4. John Goewert says:

    Dan, NPR used to put out mp3s since… geez… when did that start 2000? The used to have the whole archive available, but I haven’t looked at it recently. It’s cool that they have streams as well now too.

    I have been getting the mp3’s straight from iTunes, but you can grab the mp3’s via just about any way.

    http://www.npr.org/rss/podcast/podcast_directory.php

  5. Larry Ellison says:

    it seems that getting the right culture can be hugely influential

    Yes, you just have to look at Microsoft’s own Bungie group that put out HALO and HALO2. Part of the reason the game is so popular is the really rich backstory. You believe in the mission, the environment, the aliens, and the characters, and that adds another dimension to the usual DOOM "shoot da other guy" reflexes-test twitch game.

    HALO is the only such game that has ever interested me, and it’s the only Microsoft software besides a couple of versions of MS Streets’n’Trips that I’ve ever bought and paid money for.

    They’ve done this since their earliest games and it shows in their huge following.

  6. James says:

    This is well worth a read…

    Masters of Doom : How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0812972155/qid=1137667457/sr=1-5/ref=sr_1_5/002-5734494-3408014?s=books&v=glance&n=283155

  7. Chris Becke says:

    I am still waiting for Duke Nukem Forever.

  8. WB says:

    +1 For reading Masters of Doom.

    it wasn’t really Johns fault for the travesty of Daikatana. Carmack and him were at odds over who could produce the best game. but Carmack was the game engine guy, and Romero was the mapper/designer/PR Rockstar. So Carmack had Q3 game engine technology in the works, but Romero (who was licensing Carmacks engine) was still working with Q2 engine for DaiKatana.

    No contest really. q2 engine vs q3 engine. Just one of many, many items that contributed to the whole DaiKatana thing.

    Sad really…

  9. sthomas says:

    "No contest really. q2 engine vs q3 engine."

    Hardly a "no contest" due to the engine difference. Half-Life was based on the Quake 2 engine and I’d pay you money if you could find anyone on Earth that would claim Quake 3 was a better game than Half-Life.

  10. aleko says:

    Actually, Half-Life was based on the Quake 1 engine! When HL came out in 98, Quake 2 was not yet available for licensing.

    Goes to show you what can be accomplished when you have an experienced, and well-organized team. BTW, the core developers at Valve are ex-Microsoft guys.

  11. Vince P says:

    it wasn’t really Johns fault for the travesty of Daikatana

    I read the article Raymond linked to. My take on this is that John was one of the owners of this company and he was the/a project lead.

    If it’s not John’s fault then who’s was it? Seems to me John was incompetent to be in a leadership position and because of this, the project was mismanaged from day zero.

  12. Stu says:

    Microsoft’s own Bungie group

    You make it sound as if Microsoft invented Bungie!

    Bungie existed long before Microsoft. They were best known for the Marathon trilogy of FPS’s (all except Marathon II were Mac-only). There has also been speculation as to wether or not Halo takes place in the same universe as Marathon, as the Marathon logo is featured between the A and L of the Halo logo and appears several times in game.

    The Marathon games have all been open-sourced (engine and content, here that iD…), so anyone can play them.

  13. Stu says:

    core developers at Valve are ex-Microsoft guys

    So thats why HL/HL2 are one of the very few major games that have never been ported to another OS or had their engines open-sourced…

  14. B.Y. says:

    Oh man, I can’t wait for the fall of Raymond Chen, when he’ll be exposed as the programmer who can’t keep his balance that he is.

  15. Asd says:

    The engine was not the primary problem with Daikatana. The gameplay was the main problem, with fundamental errors like annoying mosquito and frog enemies.

    And HL was ported to the Dreamcast. The engine mostly belongs to id so they probably couldn’t open source it but the actual game logic was all in the SDK.

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